OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Thursday that Pre-K through 12th grade teachers and staff, as well as Oklahomans age 16 and up with comorbidities, will be eligible to get the vaccine starting February 22.
“We feel like it is the right time to begin vaccinating more of our at risk population,” said Col. Lance Fry, Interim Commissioner of Health.
“This portion of Phase 2 will likely take some time to complete. So, we ask that Oklahomans continue to be patient with us as we expand to this larger population,” said Keith Reed, Oklahoma State Department of Health Deputy Commissioner.
The state says there are over a million people who will be eligible due to comorbidities alone.
Those comorbidities include asthma, cancers, heart disease, obesity and more.
On top of that, about 89,000 teachers and support staff need to be vaccinated.
“Our regional directors across the state are initiating conversations with school districts in their areas to determine operational details, such as number of doses needed at each school,” Reed said.
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister weighed in, sending KFOR this statement, in part:
“While in-person school is more dependent on covid mitigation strategies such as masks and social distancing, ensuring the vaccination of teachers is vital to keeping school doors open. I urge all Oklahomans, teachers and non-teachers alike, to welcome the vaccine as soon as they are eligible.”STATE SUPERINTENDENT JOY HOFMEISTER
“I know this has been a really tough year for parents, for students, for teachers, for staff, all across our state. And that’s why I’m proud to be able to get this vaccine out as quickly as possible,” Stitt said.
Col. Lance Frye said the state’s goal is to vaccinate any teacher who wants to be vaccinated by Spring Break.
The Oklahoma Education Association also sent KFOR a statement, saying in part, “Educators have been outspoken in their advocacy for concrete actions to keep our schools open safely. We are grateful the governor has listened and taken this critical step.”